Interview Series: Living Yoga Off the Mat with Alexa Nehter
This blog series is a reflection of how incredible yogis are taking the powerful and ancient principles of yoga off the mat and into their world.
Today we have Alexa Nehter. A German born and raised science educator turned yoga teacher, author, speaker, coach and passionate surfer Alexa Nehter inspires a wide audience around the world with her relatable and encouraging approach to yoga and mindful, electrified living.
Alexa facilitates retreats in Australia, Fiji and Europe, as well as courses and workshops to teach the true ownership of yoga and a life that is real, uplifting and juicy.
Her mission is to educate the world about the transformative power of yoga, mindfulness and the choice of living lightly, in a way that is inclusive, inviting and inspiring for others.
Finish this sentence:
My yoga practice is… first and foremost a fluid approach of undoing and re-discovery of what is true in the moment. I ask: Who am I. What am I doing here? Am I happy? Am I free? Are you? (Because really: you are me and I am you, but not really. Really?)
My yoga practice is also an intention to elevate others and a continuous invitation for my community to practice, to embrace evolution (even if not always pain free and
comfortable) and awake to their own truth and authentic expressions.
To me, yoga means…. surfing the wave of freedom, of all universal expressions of energy. Yoga means love. Yoga means heaven. Yoga means tears, sweat and discouragement. Yoga means exploring resistance and finding freedom on a daily basis. Yoga means asking questions and learning. Yoga means to be curious, to trust, to learn, to step up, to let go, to hold on and to let go again. It means to flow and to be steady. To let go of your old stories, and to tell new stories, steadily. Yoga means to be weightless. Yoga means to wake up. Yoga means to elevate others and us. Yoga means creating a community of lovers and compassionate helpers. Yoga means creating world peace, conscious living and did I say love? What is love? Living love is Yoga. Living yoga is Love.
My experience off the mat has… opened my eyes that it’s not about me. No, it’s about us. You, me, the planet in space. It has also solidified my commitment & mission to serve and enrich yoga students and yoga teachers with the wisdom and knowledge I gained and aim to translate in the most relatable way, to inspire commitment, integrity, endurance and confidence for creative, positive yoga leaders in order to make the world to a place of a self-less thinking community, recognized and celebrated freedom, health and peace.
I’m part of a movement called ‘Off the Mat, Into the World’ which empowers people through workshops, community collaborations and local/global service projects. The mission of this OTM is to harness the power of yoga to inspire and support conscious activism and instigate grassroots social change.
The biggest shift/epiphany/moment of insight I’ve ever had during yoga was… when I attended my first ever yoga class. After 90 min. of emotional and physical awkwardness, having a laughing fit with my best friend who practiced next to me, I ended up in Savasana and in bitter-sweat tears of joy. I felt so, so soft. So vulnerable. There I was, in touch with my heart. Like an old missed friend, I was in touch with my soul again. There it was this light, the fire that burned so still, yet strong, telling me that it’s all good, it’s all good. Telling me how perfect I am, how good life is, how joy is the expression of love! Of Life and this joy is always there, always.
Quick Fire Questions
What are the lessons you carry on a daily basis, off your mat?
Presence & Mindfulness:
Every encounter with my hubby, my family, my friends, my yoga community and coaching clients give me the opportunity to remember that I am part of something bigger, that we all share the same life, the experience of suffering and joy. Over the years of practicing mindfulness and yoga I have let go of the idea of wanting others to be so I am comfortable. I have opened up to a greater ability acceptance and tolerance, even though my ego nudges me at times.
Through this I have made wiser choices of the people I spend my time with, the energy I receive of others is really important to me.
Integrity & compassion:
I love giving, but…. when I was working as a high school teacher and beginning yoga-preneur in the past, I overlooked to gift myself the pure sweet self-love and –compassion to maintain the vibes necessary to be there for my community, authentically.
If I neglect the work I do on myself. The meditation, the yoga practice, a balanced diet and nurtured relationships – how can I be an authentic messenger for exactly that message?
I don’t want to leave the impression I have it figured it all out, but I do know that it takes consistent work, commitment and most importantly a vision. This vision of an aligned, full, juicy life must be part of our daily practice.
Mindful living, sharing and supporting each other are the best tools to do exactly that. I have created a monthly event called ‘One Week Differently’, which is a monthly free one week mind-body-soul detox challenge for women. In this week the women in the group chose a few things that they’d like to adjust in their lives. Having the principles of positive and self loving self talk, ‘one step at a time’ and gradual shifts as priority. The underlying humming of the week is loving kindness and self-compassion in order to plant the seeds for a soulful and transformative journey.
Fluidity & freedom:
These are my favorite words, my everyday mantras. I’m a surfer. I love riding waves, even bigger ones. Those can teach me the most valuable lessons. I lived for 4 years in the deserted area in North-Western Australia, where I drove my 4WD up and down the beaches. On my own, searching for waves, with no one around for hundreds of kilometers.
It was the perfect place for getting deep into meditation and self-inquiry. Surfing and mindfulness meditation has brought me to being what I am today. A yoga teacher and mentor, sharing what I learn through meditation and surfing, things like the discovery of fluid balance, open minded anticipation, steadiness and trust within the rhythmical fluxes between calm and craziness.
Fluidity symbolizes the recognition and acceptance of change for me. Change as the consistent in our lives and in nature’s expressions. Even though I find myself clinging onto my physical and mental comfort zones, this acceptance gives me the ability to free myself up for particular adjustments and a more openhearted life. It also gave me supportive and nerve calming faith in the inherent self-organizing principles of the universe.
Elevation & Community (the Sangha, my source):
I have been elevated by teachers, coaches, by nature, by women and men with amazing visions and insights. As much as it is important for me to acknowledge my role as a vessel to pass this knowledge on, I feel it is as important to pay attention of what your community can teach you. The communities I have chosen to be part of, are gently pushing against the panzer of ignorance, violence and consumerism in our world. I am a lucky women to be part of them.
What yogic principle have you translated for yourself – what, how and why?
I translate these principles in my life. As the first sutra says, the practice of yoga and the achievement begins with the intention that it is something we live with.
It’s the intention that we have consciously or subconsciously if we choose to be more in the moment, if we chose to undo tension, chose to create more space for love in our life, chose to make shit happen that our heart, soul and health are supported.
What does ‘Living Your Yoga’ mean to you?
Yoga is for a living process.
While experiencing others and myself in my relationships, coaching, yoga teaching, retreats and business dealings, I aim to step back and reflect regularly in order to form a new perspective.
We as humans already intuitively know the essence of all answers to our questions.
I imagine the 8 limbs (Asthtanga) of the yoga philosophy like a sphere of layers that are integrated. Any of these layers breathing, asana, Yama or Niyama are all inherent in the other. My breathing feeds my movement, my movement is held by ahimsa, my focus is given through the overall practice.
I know what fires and stimulates and what doesn’t support my intentions. Drinking alcohol, overeating, over-stimulating my mind with social media, conversations or simply not spending enough time in nature are the most impactful to my life.
Practices like yoga asana, mindfulness meditation or breathing help me shedding the accumulated, sometimes hardened and obscure layers that are covering my real soulful electricity.
Patanjali’s sutras are an inspiration, but never fixed guidelines for my life as a teacher, mentor, partner, daughter, sister and friend. I don’t like to label myself as a yogi with a certain style or lifestyle. If feels counterintuitive to me. Even though it guides others and gives them a bit of a framework of what I’m about, it seem to restrict me in my every evolving journey. I like to wake up over and over again, with new views, new understandings, from moment to moment.
Special gift from Alexa:
Here is the private link to Alexa’s mindfulness speech she presented during the first Australian conference of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
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